Clemson is always going to be recruiting some of the nation’s top prospects and the Tigers have been keeping tabs on one of the country’s best cornerbacks in the Class of 2023.
A.J. Harris, a class of 2023 recruit from Glenwood School in Phenix City, Ala., is the nation’s No. 3 cornerback and No. 21 overall prospect in his respective class, per 247Sports Composite rankings.
Harris (6-2, 185) caught up with The Clemson Insider regarding his recruitment and just what he’s been hearing from the Tigers lately.
“Just how they can better me as a young man, as well as a football player,” Harris said. “Clemson being the best of both worlds as far as the genuine feel and the academics and the football. They’re just making sure that I get the bigger picture of that program.”
Harris released a top-13 list back on July 6, which featured the Tigers, along with Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Florida, Miami, LSU, Virginia Tech, Southern Cal and Utah.
He’ll see the schools that he hasn’t been able to visit before he makes his decision, he said.
“A genuine feel,” Harris said when asked what factors he’s looking for in a school at the next level,” and making sure that they give me the education that I need to have beyond the football years. You can never make a decision based off your position coaches, they can always leave.
“Just making sure that the whole coaching staff is invested in me and will take care of me and I have a genuine feel from the whole coaching staff rather than my position coach.”
Harris has carved out relationships with Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed.
“Just such a genuine feel from all of them,” Harris said when asked to characterize his relationships with Clemson’s coaching staff. “I like how we don’t always have to talk football. We can talk about just life, which is something that’s cool because you don’t always have to recruit me. I’m still human at the end of the day and I still live a regular life like everybody else. It’s just nice that I don’t always have to talk about football with those guys.”
Harris was able to see Clemson in person back on June 5. He was officially extended a scholarship offer during his unofficial visit, which he took with Roswell (Ga.) four-star cornerback Ethan Nation.
“I loved the way Clemson is set up,” Harris said. “It’s a very discreet location. There’s not too much going on all-around it. I’m a homebody, I don’t really like doing too much. That’s kind of right up my alley and it’s just making sure that you get your education and playing football at a high level. That’s just something that’s big for me. I’m not really a big city type of guy. I definitely like the setup of the whole campus.”
Harris enjoyed that he was able to take in the visit with Nation as the two had a fun time together, interacting with the coaches and things of that nature.
This is all new to Harris. It was different for him because the standout Alabama cornerback wasn’t being recruited before the pandemic. He was finally able to put voices to faces on the recruiting trail this summer.
“This was all so new to me and my parents,” he said. “But, it was a blessing from the man up above because there were so many kids that wanted to get out to college and see what college has to offer. I’m thankful that I don’t have to make my decision blind. It was definitely amazing.”
At the end of the day, Harris is a self-described competitor, who loves football.
“I’m a technician,” Harris added. “Someone who truly focuses on the technical aspect, especially with me being a taller DB. I have to be honed in on all the little things, making sure that I don’t take any extra steps in-and-out of my transitions. I’m definitely aggressive…I’ll compete with anybody, no matter the size, no matter anything.
“Whoever gets me will be getting someone that wants to be the best and wants to go win a National Championship and help his team do so.”
First and foremost, Harris is a team-first player. When asked about his goals for this upcoming season and beyond, Harris didn’t hesitate with his answer.
“Win a state championship, that’s the only thing I want to do,” he said.
Harris believes that individual success comes with team success and everything else will fall into place from there.